Summary and book reviews of Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth

Saving Hamlet

by Molly Booth

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth X
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2016, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2017, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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About this Book

Book Summary

A teenager working on her high school's production of Hamlet and falls through the stage trap door, into the basement of The Globe Playhouse in 1601.

Emma Allen couldn't be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club's production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she's rocking a new haircut that's sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Emma's promoted to stage manager with zero experience, her best friend Lulu stops talking to her, and Josh - the adorable soccer boy who's cast as the lead - turns out to be a disaster. It's up to Emma to fix it all, but she has no clue where to start.

One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life's latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage's trap door ... landing in the basement of the Globe Theater.

It's London, 1601, and with her awesome new pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma's a boy - even Will Shakespeare himself. With no clue how to get home, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant to the original production of Hamlet, learning a thing or two about the theater, and meeting an incredibly hot actor named Alex who finds Emma as intriguing as she finds him. But once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. Which boy is the one for her? In which reality does she belong? Will Lulu ever forgive her? And can she possibly save two disastrous productions of Hamlet before time runs out?

1

I have a theory that the haircut started all of this.

It was three days before my sophomore year of high school started, and I remember everything: my hand shaking as I pushed open the door to the salon, the AC sending chills up and down my arms.

"Have a seat. Someone can take you in a minute."

I took a magazine and flipped through, not looking at the shiny-mirror half of the room. I hadn't had a real hair-cut haircut since we had moved to Massachusetts. But with everything that had happened in the last year, I desperately wanted a change. Needed a change.

I put down the magazine and pulled out the picture— some model I found when searching online. The cut was chin-length and feathery: supercool, supernew, superchic.

It'll be a miracle if it turns out like that, though, I had thought. "Chic" isn't a word I can even say out loud.

"Emma?"

I stood and blurted out:

"Hi!"

A twenty-something woman with short, spiky, purple hair raised her eyebrows at my too-...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

What could have been a run-of-the-mill coming-of-age story is elevated through Booth’s clear prose, and the detailed, expertly researched descriptions of the original staging of Hamlet, as well as the ways in which the play’s staging changed over the years and under different directors. The students have to grapple with these choices while also grappling with their interpersonal relationships, which provides a level of depth to Booth’s description of high school life. Additionally, readers will be able to learn about the conventions of performing a play before modern technology, with details ranging from how special effects were executed, how costumes were managed, what it took to be an actor in Shakespeare’s time, and who was really responsible for ensuring performances went off without a hitch. Older readers will be reminded of how complex transitioning from adolescence to adult can be, and teens will be able to empathize with the experiences of Emma and her friends. It is this emotional appeal to multiple types of readers, woven into a touch of relatable fantasy, that provides the real strength of Saving Hamlet.   (Reviewed by Michelle Anya Anjirbag).

Full Review (651 words).

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Media Reviews

School Library Journal
This nicely plotted story with a strong female protagonist deserves a place in most YA collections. grade 7 and up.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. As enlightening as it is enjoyable, this whimsical novel deserves applause of its own.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. This entertaining and original novel deals not just with growing up, but with a fresh and different interpretation of 'to be or not to be'.

Author Blurb Jane Yolen, author of The Devil's Arithmetic, Sword of the Rightful King, and Owl Moon
I love, love, love Saving Hamlet. I love its characters - smart, sassy, irreverent - and its gender-bending both in the 21st and 17th centuries. I love its intelligent take on high school theater geeks.

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Beyond the Book

Tell it to the Book-keeper

"Want to know what a book-keeper's job is, boy?" he muttered. "We keep the actors from ruinin' the play."

Drawing of the Globe TheatreEmma thinks her sudden promotion to stage manager of her high school's drama department is a stretch in Molly Booth's debut novel Saving Hamlet but it is nothing like the crash course she receives when she finds herself in the 1600s, serving as the accidental assistant to Master Wick, the book-keeper of the Globe Theatre.

The book-keeper was a member of the company of players who was responsible for the promptbooks – what would be known by modern stage hands as the playbook – and shared many of the responsibilities of a modern stage manager. While there is little scholarly evidence to provide a complete and certain ...

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